Ola Fresca (fresh wave) is the name of the band singer-composer-lyricist José Conde founded in 2000. Ola Fresca features some of the best musicians in New York City, coming together for a fresh take on rootsy, funky, jazzy, Latin dance music. Their new album ‘(R)evolución’ is produced by the Grammy-winning Aaron Levinson and sees the band expand to include a unique array of musicians’ musicians, some of whom are living legends.
José Conde describes ‘(R)evolución’ as “a forward-reaching Latin-World record”. It’s not made to fit the straightjacket of commercial radio. Nor does it sound much like what’s coming out of Cuba, or Miami, or San Juan, or from other bandleaders in New York. Recorded at the vintage-gear all-analog Brooklyn Recording studio during summer 2006, ‘(R)evolución’ is part of a new wave of Spanish-language alternative music that’s growing in strength and popularity worldwide.
All the members of Ola Fresca have a slew of major credits in a variety of Latin styles. Bassist Jorge Bringas played with Buena Vista Social Club star Omara Portuondo in Havana; trumpeter Steve Gluzband played with Ray Barretto for many years and trombonist Rafi Malkiel played with Colombian star Toto La Momposina.
The guest performers on ‘(R)evolución’ are also a who’s who of Latin music. Highlights include 89-year-old trombonist Generoso Jiménez (who was at one time music director for Benny Moré), and present-day salsa dura rave-up trombone superstar Jimmy Bosch. Cubans have to come with serious rhythm, so besides the regular percussion complement of Ola Fresca ‘(R)evolución’ makes room for the charismatic young conguero Pedro Martínez, creating a natural yet unique sound with the help of the most celebrated funky drummer in the United States, New Orleans’s own Zigaboo Modeliste.
The Cubans have a kind of stew called ‘ajiaco’, into which all kinds of meats and vegetables can be incorporated. ‘(R)evolución’ is definitely a musical ‘ajiaco’. You don’t have to be able to identify every bite to like the taste. In each tune, one style of music informs another. Conde describes ‘Café Con Sangre’ as “bombafunk ‘n’ salsa”. There’s a tasty Cubanized Haitian compas (‘Pititi y Titi’ in both French and Spanish versions), as well as the cumbia-meets-soca-meets-reggae ‘Probando Nuevos Sabores’. There’s Havana-style timba, and you know there’s a cha-cha-chá (‘El Títere’). There’s also “El Chacal” (The Jackal), which parodies a well-known Cuban revolutionary song to criticize the commodified image of a controversial icon: “you don’t win peace with bullets”, says the lyric.
Conde has expressed a personal commitment to non-violence, and his cosmopolitan vision of the Latin world is a hopeful one. The title of ‘(R)evolución’ tells you that. The music lets you hear how it might sound.
Release Date: 18th June 2007